As we progress through 2017, an increasing number of news stories are proving that solar energy could well be the solution to permanently cut down the world’s fossil fuel consumption. In the US alone we saw a 95% increase in solar power production in 2016 compared to 2015. After an initial boom in the residential use of solar power, non-residential has recently overtaken for the first time since 2011. This was thanks to two major drivers in this area: firstly community solar projects and secondly rate design and net energy metering.
The utility-scale segment, hedging against the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit, was another main factor, with a growth rate of 145% from 2015. A record 22 states each added more than 100 megawatts, as GTM Research’s associate director of U.S. solar Cory Honeyman said, “what stands out is the double-digit-gigawatt boom in utility-scale solar, primarily due to solar’s cost-competitiveness with natural-gas alternatives.”
That’s not to say residential use is suffering – it did in fact grow 19% year over year, partly thanks to gaining traction in states like Maryland and New Jersey. With new technology such as Tesla’s new improved camouflaged solar panels being unveiled, it’s a fair bet this technology will be integrated into an increasing number of homes throughout America.
What’s equally exciting is the explosion in the job market thanks to solar. 260,000 Americans are now employed in the solar sector and the industry is creating jobs 17 times faster than the economy as a whole. It’s also proving to be a great source of jobs for veterans returning to the US. With the worry of industries being sent overseas, this is promising news for those worried about job security.
I think it is fair to say solar energy is a force to be reckoned with and we can expect to see solar become a mainstay in all our day-to-day lives.